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Pacers 1st Round Draft Possiblities: Ekpe Udoh

Now that the NBA Draft Lottery is out of the way, it's time to start profiling the Pacers possibilities for 1st Round picks. The profiles will follow the same format as my 2nd Rounders, with a little bit more detail.

The Pacers received the 10th pick in the Lottery, but several possibilities for trading down and/or acquiring multiple picks have been floating around. For that reason I'm going to examine anyone who might help the Pacers, and then discuss within the profile any steps which might need to be taken to acquire that player.

We have just over a month until the draft, so I'll try to get a profile out every day or two. Here's who we'll be looking at today:

Ekpe Udoh - PF - 6' 9.75"  237lbs. - Baylor University



Ten Important Stats - Ekpe Udoh

Pts/40 Reb/40 Ast/40 Blk/40 eFG% FT% FT/40 TO/40 PF/40 OREB/40
15.8 11.1 3.1 4.2 50.0% 68.5% 5.1 2.8 2.8 4.1

Strengths -

  • Udoh has terrific size, measuring out at 6' 9.75" inches with shoes on. He couples this with a 7' 4.5" wingspan. He also has decent quickness and athleticism to go with his other physical tools.
  • He is a respectable post scorer, with a variety of consistent finesse moves. He is capable of facing up and beating bigger players off the dribble, or knocking down a jumpshot. His jumpshot remains a weapon when he spots up or shoots off the dribble.
  • Udoh's court awareness and passing improved dramatically this season. He averaged 3.1 Assists/40min, and looks quite comfortable finding open teammates spotting up or cutting to the basket.
  • Udoh's length and athleticism made him a very good college rebounder, especially on the offensive end where he averaged 4.1 OReb/40min.
  • He is a very good shot-blocker in help situations, as well as in man to man post defense.

Weaknesses -

  • There are questions about his consistency. Udoh played in 36 games this season. He scored 18+ points in 12 of those games, but he also failed to reach double digits 10 times; including in 6 of his 18 Big 12 games. Udoh had 11+ rebounds in 15 games this season, but he also had 6 or less rebounds 9 times. Having only spent one season as a major producer, he still has a lot to prove. He'll be 23 years old by the time of the draft and there are concerns about how much more upside and potential he has.
  • He has good physical tools, but is lacking in strength. In college he was able to compensate for this lack of strength in the paint with craftiness and finesse. These moves may not be as effective against NBA defenders.
  • To translate his rebounding prowess to the NBA, Udoh will have to add strength in both his upper and lower body, as well as develop his fundamentals with regards to boxing out and positioning.
  • Udoh has the foot speed and quickness to be an effective defender when switched out onto the perimeter. He spent most of his time at the center position in college and therefore had very few opportunities to defend in these situations. There will inevitably be a learning curve here as he learns the fundamentals and strategies to maximize his physical tools.

How he can help the Pacers -

  • There is much agreement among fans and analysts that the Pacers roster needs a long, athletic power forward to rebound and defend the basket. This consensus seems strange to me as Troy Murphy, their admittedly athletically-limited starting power forward for the last two seasons, is among the best defensive rebounders in the league (8th in DRB% last season). While Murphy is not a shot-blocker, and appeared to create a weak interior defense when paired with center Roy Hibbert, the Pacers still held their opponents to 58.3% shooting at the rim, good for 6th best in the league. That being said, the Pacers will be likely looking to move Murphy's expiring contract during the season, and none of the other frontcourt players on their roster count rebounding or defense as their strengths.
  • Udoh has the potential to be a legitimate rebounder and shot-blocker in the NBA. On paper, he would seem to be an ideal power forward to be paired with Roy Hibbert. He has the foot speed and athleticism that Hibbert lacks, to step out to the perimeter and defend the pick and roll as well as guard stretch frontcourt players. His rebounding ability can offset some of Hibbert's shortcomings in this area. The length of Udoh and Hibbert together would be a formidable front line from a shot-blocking perspective.
  • Offensively he and Hibbert have some similar skills and could work well interchangably. They both have the potential to take their man down on the block and score, as well as find open teammates. They each can hit the mid-range jumpshot, which will help space the floor for the other. In addition, they both seem comfortable working out of the highpost and finding cutters.
  • Udoh doesn't project to ever be an elite offensive player. He does have the skills and versatility to be a consistent and efficient contributor. He's not an All-Star in waiting, but his physical tools, defensive potential and offensive versatility could make him an important piece on a winning team.
  • Udoh is projected to go somewhere in the lottery but would most likely be available at the 10th pick. If the Pacers choose him they could let him work off the bench for the first part of the season until they are able to find a trade partner for Murphy, at which point he could hopefully take over the starting role. He has the height and length to play some spot minutes at the center position as well, which could help alleviate some of the initial minute crunch with Hibbert, Murphy, Hansbrough, Foster, McRoberts and Solomon Jones.

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